Getting pulled over or being stopped by an officer in the street can be a stressful situation. It’s important that you understand your rights as well as the typical protocol to avoid unnecessary conflict, agitation, and undeserved treatment. While police are present to protect you, you should be aware of your legal rights in case you are wrongfully accosted or find yourself in danger.
One of your most important rights is that of silence. You can choose not to speak to an officer of the law and instead invoke your fifth amendment right and insist on attaining an attorney prior to any conversation. Depending on the context of your situation and the state in which you live, it is often wise to provide your name and address when asked. Beyond this information, you have the option to stay quiet.
Asking to Leave
If you feel you have done nothing deserving of this incident or that the police have no reason to hold you, ask them if you are free to leave. If they answer affirmatively, you have every right to leave the premises. Likewise, you always have the option to ask questions for clarification. An officer pulling you over and insisting you get out of the car may warrant you asking if he is ordering you to consent to a search. Being bold in this way can help prevent any violation of your implicit rights.
Decline a Search
A police officer may want to search your person, vehicle, or property, but you usually have the right to deny their efforts; saying “I do not consent to a search” will generally prevent them from proceeding. If they have a warrant or they suspect you have a weapon, your consent may not matter, but you do not have to oblige their search if you don’t want to.
Recording police activity may be frowned upon by some officers, but it is certainly legal. Making the effort to document your interaction can help provide you with factual evidence regarding any mistreatment or violations, and having that data can serve as a safety net. It’s important to remember that retrieving a device for the purpose of recording could convey a threat, so you’ll want to be cautious.
In addition to knowing your rights and being able to invoke them after being stopped, you should also be aware of the typical protocol that a police interaction demands. Never flee or make sudden movements that could be perceived as an attempt to evade or harm an officer. You should keep your hands visible, free of objects when possible, and away from the officer. Lastly, you should make every effort to follow instructions; if you feel your rights have been violated during this encounter, you can file a report afterward.
Ensuring your safety and the sanctity of the law are top priorities during a police interaction. You should be careful and make sure you are educated on your rights to avoid forfeiting information or endangering yourself or others.
For obvious reasons, lawyers and legality are common topics in popular television dramas and comedies; with excitement, mystery, and a touch of reality, shows featuring aspects of the legal process are undoubtedly compelling. When it comes to lawyer representation, there are few shows which do the profession justice, but those that do are praised for their accuracy as well as their ability to hold their audiences captive.
Heralded for its drama and thrill, Damages manages to command its audience’s attention through tension and intrigue. With two women serving as the primary protagonists, the show does not shy away from danger and controversy. From an accomplished and maddened partner at an esteemed law firm to a fresh graduate with a dark and confusing past, Damage may not be popular simply for its representation of the legal profession, but it certainly manages to twist the typical tales and present something altogether new and exciting in the genre.
Perhaps lesser known but still radically influential is The Defenders, a show that aired over the course of five years in the 1960s. Featuring an unconventional arrangement of a father and son law firm that dealt primarily in controversial cases other law practitioners would typically avoid, The Defenders paved new ground for law in fiction and reality. With its renowned reception, The Defenders has been cited as the inspiration for some great law shows of the modern age like Mad Men, and though the show is a bit more archaic than others on this list, its impact and brazenness are not to be ignored.
Law & Order
Since 1990, Law & Order has persisted at the top of the rankings for average fans and law practitioners alike. While there are guaranteed fallacies when it comes to dramatized versions of reality, Law & Order has managed to capture relevant social matters at the time of its airing as well as the attention of its viewers. With subseries like “Special Victims Unit,” “Criminal Intent,” and “True Crime” that have earned accolades, Law & Order continues to represent the issues of its age while painting a relatively clear and fair image of the legal system.
Though this show might not have aged well enough to appeal to a contemporary audience, the influence L.A. Law had on television remains astounding. It wasn’t the first show to feature law practitioners, not by a long shot, but its creation and strong reception arguably led to the production of many other legal series following its release. The show took a risk in altering the traditional structure, switching from a “case-of-the-week” format to feature ongoing arcs that spanned across multiple episodes, even delving into some trivialities of legal practices that might be omitted in other shows.
About Henry Vinson
Henry Vinson is a 10,000 hour commercial pilot with Single-Engine and Multi-Engine Airplane; Rotorcraft-Helicopter; Instrument-Airplane; Flight Instructor Airplane & Flight Instructor Helicopter ratings. Henry Vinson holds a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mortuary Science from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. He is a member of the Public Relations Society of America, Airplane Owner and Pilot Association, American Marketing Association, American Communications Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.
Henry Vinson was born in 1960 in South Williamson, Kentucky. He graduated from Williamson High School in 1979, and, after attending South West Virginia Community College, he enrolled in the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. In 1982, he was appointed the Coroner for Mingo County, West Virginia.
Four years later, he became a funeral director for W. W. Chambers Funeral Homein Washington, DC. After his stint at W. W. Chambers Funeral Home, he owned and operated the largest gay escort service ever uncovered in Washington, DC at the age of 26.
In 2007, Mr. Vinson received a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University, and today he is a successful entrepreneur who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following a successful career as a marketing and advertising consultant, Henry Vinson opted to return to school in 2014 to pursue a law degree. Vinson is currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor Program at William Howard Taft University, America’s oldest nationally accredited distance learning law school.